The Roughest Draft by Emily Wibberley/Austin Siegemund-Broka (ARC Review)

Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group
Page Count
: 336
Release Date: January 25, 2022

*I was provided with an eARC by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!*

CW: mention of depression, anxiety, sexual content

Even though I know that Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka wrote several YA contemporaries together before, The Roughest Draft was my first experience with their writing and it was their first foray into the adult romance genre. Right from the bat, I have to say that it felt smart, quick-witted and consisted of some really beautiful prose.

Going in, I knew very little about the author duo. However, having read the acknowledgments section as well as being informed by my friend Marie (who has reviewed the book as well, which you can check out here) that they’re married in real life made this whole book feel very meta. The characters, Katrina and Nathan, put so much of themselves in their writing and you cannot help but wonder if the authors did the same. How much of it mirrored their feelings for each other? How much is just pure fiction? I love the intrigue and layers these questions create in your mind as you get drawn more and more into their world.

While this novel was medium to fast paced, I found myself a little bit frustrated with our characters at times, which made me stop every now and then. Their fall out was built up as this huge thing and you could really see the grudge in the first chapters. After all, they hadn’t spoken in four years and hadn’t just cut each other out of their lives, but other people as well. Sometimes, the break up felt a bit too big for what actually transpired though and how easily they found their way back to each other. The hurt and miscommunication between Katrina and Nathan I could eventually understand, also why they were holding each other back, but the ghosting of other characters felt petty.

Ultimately, Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka managed to create a beautiful relationship though. It is flawed and it is perfect, it is real and pure fairy tale fiction at the same time. The kind of stuff you wish your romance was made of. The intimacy between Katrina and Nathan is truly one of a kind, but combines all the best parts of “second chance romance”-tropes as well as “best friends to lovers”-themes.
It also gave an interesting peek into the world of writing collaboratively, which interests me now more than ever, and the publishing world as a whole. As a bookworm and someone who would very much like to write and release a book eventually, this setting was one of my favorite parts of the whole novel.

Fazit: 4/5 stars! Beautiful prose for a really meta love story.


Do you plan on reading The Roughest Draft? Have you read other books by the author duo? Let’s chat!

Love, Lists, and Fancy Ships by Sarah Grunder Ruiz (ARC Review)

Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group
Page Count
: 336
Release Date: November 23, 2021

*I was provided with an eARC by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!*

CW: loss of a loved one, parental abandonment, grief

Love, Lists, & Fancy Ships is Sarah Grunder Ruiz’ debut women’s fiction/contemporary romance novel. However, while the cover looks very sweet and fun, I’m very glad I knew going in that grief would be a central aspect of the book. As my reading list tends to show, I gravitate towards books that deal with loss and the handling of grief quite regularly, so I was pleased to see how it was dealt with here. It’s a topic that can easily become overwhelming, but while the sadness was always there as an undercurrent, there were so many beautiful and upbeat moments in the story to balance it out, so it never felt too heavy. I can confidently say that I can imagine everyone who has suffered a loss in their lives, finding Love, Lists, & Fancy Ships deeply moving and relatable.

We start off with Josephine Walker aka Jo at her job on a charter yacht. It’s such a fun setting, but what I enjoyed even more than that were the characters that gradually got added. You could feel the history Jo has with each individual as they felt fleshed out and real. There wasn’t a single person I didn’t like to read about. Nina is the kind of ride-or-die best friend one can only wish for. Alex is the kind of love interest you really want to root for, because he is kind and funny and charming and definitely also hot. He’s one of the few romantic leads where I didn’t have to constantly shake my head in disappointment about the choices he made. However, the romance doesn’t actually always take center stage, as the familial relationships with the nieces, daughters and sisters are just as important. It definitely felt like a well-rounded cast!

Jo makes it her priority to be the fun aunt, to distract everyone from the never ending sadness, which backfires on a few occasions. Still, the bucket list was a fun addition, especially when the gang got creative in how to tick off the last few items before time ran out.

The things I didn’t love so much about the book where all very me-problems. For one, I could not handle the Chris Evans disrespect. While Zac Efron gets celebrated (in an ironic way or not), Chris Evans gets described as old and gross. There’s literally only a six-year-age-difference between the two actors, but okay … guess I’m an old millennial myself at this point. Then there was an airport run, which I’m never a fan of, but most of all, I was bugged by the way Jo’s blogging experience was described. It’s very rare that a personal blog with, how can I put this, infrequent updates gets such a big following within less than a year that she’d get multiple concerned emails for not posting. It honestly didn’t feel very realistic to me, while everything else in the story had an authentic vibe.

Overall, I really enjoyed this journey! I felt close to the characters and shed tears on several occasions, while I also laughed out loud more than once. I was especially excited when I saw that my copy included a teaser chapter for a potential sequel with Jo’s best friend Nina as the narrator, set two years after Love, Lists, & Fancy Ships ends. I’d be so here for it! (And book 3 could be about Britt and RJ … just saying …)

Fazit: 4/5 stars! A really beautiful exploration of grief, without ever getting too heavy.


Have you read Love, Lists, and Fancy Ships? Do you want to? Do you like books that are partially set on boats? I’m kind of digging that, to be honest.

Beasts of Prey by Ayana Gray (ARC Review)

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Page Count
: 496
Release Date: September 28, 2021

*I was provided with an eARC by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!*

CW: death, verbal/physical abuse, indentured servitude/slavery, kidnapping, drug use, sexism, spiders, snakes

Beasts of Prey is the debut novel and first installment in a magical Pan-African-inspired series by Ayana Gray. From the get go, it is clear that there was a lot of thought put into the magic system and I loved uncovering the different layers to it, despite being quite confused in the beginning. Told from multiple POVs, namely those of Ekon, a boy who wants nothing more than to follow into his father’s and brother’s footsteps as a warrior, Koffi, an indentured beastkeeper at the Night Zoo, who wants to see her family free, and a third person, who I’d like to keep nameless in this review, it was interesting to see these different characters introduced and oppose each other.

It was easy to take a liking to sweet Ekon, who is better with books and has a compulsion for counting in order to quell his anxiety, as well as Koffi, who is bold, impulsive and very caring. However, the third POV was the one that felt out of place to me for the most part. It often seemed contradictory to what we learned from the others, but at the same time, I have to admit that it made sense in the end. Still, I wasn’t entirely sure it was necessary to include and more than once felt taken out of the story because of it.

The set up takes a while, but is entirely necessary to really make the characters come to life and give us the full spectrum of their motivations, however, it makes for a slow start. I much preferred reaching the halfway point and the faster pacing that came with it. Once I, the reader, entered the jungle with the characters, it was just so thrilling. There was danger around every corner, gruesome creatures to haunt your dreams and I really rooted for everyone to make it out alive at the various crossroads they faced.

jungle danger snake

The setting is absolutely fantastic, offering almost a mix of spirituality and magic. The story keeps you on your toes, especially once you think you know where it is going, and even leaves you on a cliffhanger that will have you waiting for the sequel for sure. Maybe, because I liked the characters and their dynamic so much, I would have preferred a singular focus on Ekon and Koffi, but I would completely understand why that won’t necessarily change in a sequel. I’m intrigued either way!

Finally, I’d like to point out that I found the author’s note at the end of the novel very enlightening. She explained some of her choices and I really appreciated getting that insight from her, which truly isn’t always a given and neither should it be, but I always enjoy it a lot.

Fazit: 3.5/5 stars! I would definitely pick up a sequel, although I’d hope for a more consistent pacing.


Do you intend to pick up Beasts of Prey once it is released? Do you enjoy magical jungle settings? Let’s talk!

Dark and Shallow Lies by Ginny Myers Sain (ARC Review)

Dark and Shallow Lies Cover

Publisher: Razorbill
Page Count
: 432
Release Date: September 7, 2021

*I was provided with an eARC by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!*

CW: mention of suicide and self-harm, domestic violence, emotional and physical abuse, graphic murder, death of children, hurricane/natural disaster

I don’t know what it is, but I’ve found myself drawn to darker and darker material as of late and ever since I read the blurb of this supernatural YA thriller, I knew I was going to love sinking into this world. Rich in atmosphere and magic, it still takes a while until you find your footing. While it’s a very interesting setting and concept, the beginning is a bit messy as you don’t completely understand what has been happening. Grey, our main character and narrator, is a decent guide though and introduces us to all the key players one by one … and there really are quite a few.

I think Dark and Shallow Lies did an amazing job in portraying Grey’s confusion and grief due to the disappearance of her best friend and “twin flame” Elora. Not every decision will be rational when your heart is broken and reeling, so I decided to not be too harsh on her for her constantly changing feelings towards people.
Seen as she is the only one who lives away from La Cachette outside of the summer season, it felt natural that there was a bit of distance between her and the events of the past months. However, the story focused a lot on her potential love interests as well as her dependancy and need for certain people and not so much on the other “summer children”, which would have been a bit more interesting for me. They all have different powers and are supposedly inseparable, but we were mostly told about that instead of it being shown. No matter how often they said they loved each other more and in a different way than they could ever love anyone else, they sure didn’t seem as distressed about their dwindling numbers as they should have in my eyes.

The build up of the mystery was great and left you wondering about what happened for quite a while. Sometimes you might feel like you would want a quicker progression in the case, but I was so sucked into the story, I flew through it either way and just loved exploring every new page. Ultimately, everything does make sense! When the puzzle pieces eventually fit together and everything falls into place, you can’t help but think “of course, what else could it have been!?”, which I think is always a satisfying experience. More than anything, this book seems to be a lesson on trusting your gut instinct when you think something isn’t quite right. I still wish that some aspects were explored further and I’m missing one key explanation about a certain character, but I also wasn’t massively disappointed in the end.

Fazit: 3.5/5 stars! I decided to round up because of the atmosphere, although I think it could have dug deeper.


Do you plan on reading Dark and Shallow Lies? Are you into magical YA thrillers? Let’s talk!